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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 17 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Ajmer Sharif Backs ‘Haji Ali for All’ Movement

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 May 2016

Photo: The group spearheading the ‘Haji Ali for All’ movement at Ajmer Sharif


 Iran Cracks Down On Female Models Posing Without Headscarves Online

 Triple Talaq: Our Muslim Neighbours Have Moved On, but We Haven’t

 Iraqi Woman Whipped 50 Lashes Publicly On Charges of Violating ISIS Sharia Rule

 African Union Commission and the IMWU Sign A MOU to Strengthen Cooperation and Collaboration

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Ajmer Sharif Backs ‘Haji Ali for All’ Movement

May 17, 2016

Historian and Islamic scholar Syed Liyaqat Hussain Moini, who belongs to the family of custodians of the famous Ajmer Dargah, signed a letter in support of women's entry to inner sanctum of the Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah on Monday.

Moini was approached by an 11-member team of 'Haji Ali for All' that entered the inner sanctum of the Ajmer Sharif shrine that houses the grave of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. The team included six women and their entry was an attempt to make a statement.

Moini is from the family of Khadims (custodians) of the Ajmer Dargah and his support to 'Haji Ali for All' means a lot. "Ajmer dargah houses the grave of the most-revered Sufi saint in India. If there is no discrimination against women here, then why should there be any discrimination anywhere," said activist Feroze Mithiborewala adding that after getting support from Ajmer, custodians and authorities from other Dargahs will be asked for support in the next few days.

The team also plans to get signatures from as many Khadims as possible from Ajmer.

"There are over 2000 Khadims. We will get as many signatures as possible from them," said Mithiborewala.

Till 2011, women and men were both treated equally at the Haji Ali Dargah and had similar access to the Mazaar-the inner sanctum where the saint lies buried. However after that year, women's entry was restricted only till the entrance of the Mazaar.

In November 2012, the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a network of Muslim women in India filed a petition in the Bombay High Court that is still pending. The BMMA's cause has got tremendous support from other similar fights for gender equality.

In January, the Supreme Court questioned the constitutional right of preventing women's entry at the Sabrimala Temple.

Soon, activist Trupti Desai fought to get entry in the well-known Shani Shingnapur temple and got victory. The Haji Ali issue, however, continues to remain in question with neither the High Court nor the Dargah trustees moving ahead. The final hearing in the matter is over and the court's verdict is expected by July end.

Nasreen Contractor, one of the members of Haji Ali for All, said, "On May 13, the Muslim members of the forum released an open letter addressed to the trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah.

We have quoted from the Quran and Hadith (traditions of Prophet Mohammed) and challenged the trustees' contention that the restriction in recent years on women's access to the Mazaar was according to Islamic Law. "



Iran Cracks Down On Female Models Posing Without Headscarves Online

May 17, 2016

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian police have arrested eight people in a new crackdown targeting "un-Islamic acts" online such as female models posting images of themselves without their hair covered, state media reported Monday, part of a larger cultural struggle in the Islamic Republic over the country's future.

The arrests follow the detentions of artists, poets, journalists and activists as moderate President Hassan Rouhani's administration secured a landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

The arrests and harsh sentences handed down signal that hard-liners in the police and judiciary, who were unable to stop the accord and fear looser social norms will weaken the Islamic Republic, still hold significant power in the country.

State television said this latest operation, called Spider II, particularly targeted users of the Instagram picture-sharing application. Instagram, owned by Facebook, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The television report included footage of model Elham Arab, known for her portraits in wedding dresses, speaking before Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi in a conference room, her blonde hair hidden under a black chador.

"All people love beauty and fame," Arab said. "They would like to be seen, but it is important to know what price they will pay to be seen."

Arab could not be immediately reached for comment. It wasn't immediately known if she had a lawyer.

The TV report did not say what charges she faced, nor did it identify the other seven people arrested. It said police identified some 170 people in the operation through social media activity as being involved in modelling, including 58 models, 59 photographers and makeup artists.

It said those targeted saw their businesses shut down, as well as their pages on Instagram and Facebook removed. Arab's Instagram account could not be accessed Monday.

"We must fight with enemy's actions in this area," Dowlatabadi was quoted by the state-owned IRAN newspaper as saying. "Of course our actions in this area will continue."

The previous Spider operation targeted "pornography and insulting Islamic sanctity," officials have said.

In recent years, Iranian women -- especially in the capital, Tehran -- have worn the mandatory scarf loosely on their head, drawing the ire of conservatives in the Islamic Republic. Tehran police chief Gen. Hossein Sajedinia in April announced his department had deployed 7,000 male and female officers for a new plainclothes division -- the largest such undercover assignment in memory -- to enforce the government-mandated Islamic dress code.

The model crackdown is just the latest move by authorities to control online expression in Iran. Nearly 40 percent of Iran's 80 million people can access the Internet, though the U.S.-based watchdog Freedom House describes web access as "not free" in the Islamic Republic due to censorship and filtering.

In May 2014, authorities arrested a group of young Iranian men and women for an online video of them dancing to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy." While the arrests drew widespread criticism, including from the musician himself, those involved each received suspended sentences of six months' imprisonment and 91 lashes.

Meanwhile, journalists, filmmakers, writers and activists also have been detained, sentenced or imprisoned.

On Monday, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported authorities arrested Mahdi Boutorabi, the manager of an Iranian blogging service called The ISNA report did not elaborate on the case of Boutorabi, who previously was arrested following Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election.



Triple Talaq: Our Muslim Neighbours Have Moved On, but We Haven’t

May 17, 2016

Women in poor and backward communities are bound to be further excluded. The conservative patriarchal leadership has failed to uphold the fundamental rights and entitlements of Muslim women. For them, the idea of gender equality is anathema.

Muslims, the largest minority in India, face several challenges. Of the 17.40 Crore population (according to the 2011 census), large numbers live in poverty, educational and socio-economic backwardness, with nominal political representation. Muslim women face multiple marginalisations owing to the lack of opportunities for education, income, and legal discrimination in matters of personal law.

The concepts of women’s’ human rights and equal citizenship are alien and viewed with suspicion, even hostility. Even today, the general belief is that women should stay either at home or behind veils. No wonder, then, that practices such as triple Talaq and Halala persist in our society despite them being un-Quranic. Our call to abolish this practice is met with hostile reactions. Shayara Bano had no recourse other than going to the court as the conservative clergy would never enable her to get justice.

Banning Triple Talaq

The Quran calls for a process of dialogue, attempts at reconciliation, followed by mediation over a period of 90 days before divorce. Triple Talaq as practised in India has no mention in the Quran. Triple Talaq is illegal in most Muslim countries across the world, including our neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh. And yet, the regressive religious bodies are resisting attempts to abolish it, despite the fact that Muslim women themselves want to end it.

In our study, Seeking Justice Within Family, Muslim Women’s’ Views On Reform In Muslim Personal Law, this becomes clear. This study was conducted in 10 states with a sample of 4710 women in 2015. An overwhelming 88.3% have called for a legal ban on triple talaq. 89% of the women surveyed have called for a comprehensive reform in Muslim personal law through codification. They have called for the age of marriage to be 18 and 21 years for girls and boys respectively. 91.7% of women have called for polygamy to be banned. 90% have called for Qazis to be made accountable to law based on principles of gender justice.

In yet another study conducted by us, based on over 100 case studies of women who have suffered triple talaq, we have called for an immediate ban on this practice. We have registered cases of women who have been divorced unilaterally, instantly, in absentia, over SMS, over email, over the telephone, through postcard, etc.

Reform Personal Laws

Nehru and Ambedkar championed the Uniform Civil Code because they were apprehensive that our patriarchal society will deny justice to women despite Constitutional provisions. They were afraid that Indian women from all faiths and backgrounds would continue to suffer subjugation and oppression in marriage, in family and in property matters. They thought a common code for women cutting across all religions could pre-empt such injustice. But unfortunately, they were opposed from all quarters, mainly by the Hindu right. It was perceived as a threat to our ancient culture and heritage. Nehru was forced to abandon the idea of the Uniform Civil Code.

Instead, reform was brought in through the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The Christians and the Parsis too amended their own religious text based personal laws to enable gender justice. But the Muslim women were left to deal with the injustice in their communities. The Shariat Application Act, 1937 has never been reformed or amended. It is silent on triple talaq, halala, polygamy, age of marriage, custody of children, womens’ share in property – all key issues in the life of a woman.

Abolish Triple Talaq

Triple Talaq has no mention in the Quran and the practice is considered illegal in many countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

88.3% of women called for a legal ban on triple Talaq in a 2015 study conducted by the BMMA in 10 states, with a sample size of 4710.

Attempts to bring in a Uniform Civil Code have suffered a blow so far due to political opposition, especially from the Hindu right.

The Shariat Application Act, 1937 has never been amended and is silent on contentious issues such as triple Talaq, Halala, polygamy, womens’ share in property, etc.

Unlike the political class, courts can undo the injustice perpetrated against women by declaring triple Talaq unconstitutional.

Judicial Intervention Needed

The conservative Muslim patriarchs supported by political parties and elected representatives have systematically thwarted any attempts to reform the Muslim personal law. In short, they are to be singularly blamed for blatant violations of Quranic injunctions on gender justice in the form of practices such as triple Talaq and halala. This injustice must end.

The courts must come in, as the political establishment has failed in their Constitutional obligations. They have openly allowed free play at the hands of conservative patriarchal bodies that control the lives of ordinary Muslim women and men. They have been instrumental in the denial of Quranic justice to Indian Muslim women. This must change.

The right to religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution must be upheld. This right equally applies to male as well as female citizens. They have distorted the meaning of this right giving superiority to men over women and so the injustice can continue! Triple talaq has no validity in theology, it can have no validity in Indian law. It must be banished from Indian society.



Iraqi Woman Whipped 50 Lashes Publicly On Charges of Violating ISIS Sharia Rule

May 16, 2016

AhlulBayt News Agency - Extremists of the ISIS militants on Sunday publicly flogged an Iraqi woman in the city of Mosul on charges of violating the Sharia dress code, activists and eyewitnesses reported.

“The ISIS-led Islamic Police arrested on Sunday morning a 35-year-old woman in Mosul central market under the pretext that her clothes contradicted the dress code imposed by ISIS in the region,” an eyewitness reported.

The woman has then appeared at the Sharia Court of Mosul, which accused her of violating the Islamic dress code and order ISIS insurgents to flog her in public.

“In front of hundreds of people, two masked militants whipped the woman with 50 lashes,” reported head of Nineveh media centre Raafat al-Zarari.

“The judges at the ISIS-led Sharia Courts have arbitrarily punished hundreds of people in Mosul on baseless charges,” al-Zarari said.

“Those public punishments take place on a daily basis in ISIS-held areas in an attempt from the group to show off its power over those vulnerable civilians,” he added.

Dozens of Women arrested in Syria’s Jarablus for violating Sharia Dress

In January, ISIS insurgents launched an arrest campaign in Syria’s northern city of Jarablus, targeting women accused of violating the dress code imposed by the radical group.

Local activists and eyewitnesses confirmed that ISIS militants have detained more than 30 women in Jarablus on charges of violating the Sharia dress.

Most of the arrestees were targeted in the central market of Jarablus late in January.

“They were brutally beaten by ISIS militants in front of hundreds of people in the marketplace, before being arrested and transferred to the women’s detention center in Jarablus,” a media activist who witnessed the campaign reported, speaking on condition of anonymity for security concerns.

The arrested women were whipped in public on 29 January, accruing to local sources.

In areas under ISIS control, every woman accused of violating the Islamic dress code imposed by the radical group is being flogged 50 times in public as a punishment, based on extremist regulations of the Sharia Court.



African Union Commission and the IMWU Sign A MOU to Strengthen Cooperation and Collaboration

16 May 2015

Addis Ababa, 16 May 2015: The African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Muslim Women Union (IMWU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today for strengthening cooperation and collaboration between the two parties to facilitate the implementation of the women empowerment, development and integration agenda of the African Union.

The MoU was signed by H.E. Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, and Dr. Afaf Ahmed Mohammed Secretary General of the International Muslim Women Union (IMWU).

Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi thanked the IMWU for its efforts to empower and support African women and also expressed her appreciation for the level of the existing working relationship between the two institutions and described the signed MoU as a platform to strengthen this important partnership.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs also made reference to the Declaration of 2016 as "African Year of Human Rights with Special Focus on the Rights of Women”, which provides an opportunity for the entire continent to take stock of the human rights situation on the continent in general, and the rights of women in particular. Dr. Abdullahi further added that the celebration of 2016 as the year of human rights in Africa seeks to, among other things, enhance public awareness on human rights’ instruments and mechanisms; assess the ratification and implementation of the human rights instruments, in particular women’s rights.

Dr. Abdullahi concluded by calling on the International Muslim Women Union (IMWU) to encourage its members to be part of the continental women’s movement that is supporting the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063 by adopting policies, plans of actions and programmes at the national level. She also called on the IMWU to work closely with the AUC to promote democracy and good governance as well as the empowerment of women in Africa. Dr. Afaf Ahmed Mohamed, Secretary General of the IMWU reaffirmed the commitment of her organization to work closely with the AUC towards the two institutions’ common goals as well as the implementation of joint activities to ensure the involvement of African women in the promotion of democracy, good governance and the empowerment of women in Africa. She also reiterated the intention of the IMWU to partner with the AUC in the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063.

According to the signed MoU, the African Union Commission and the Afro-Arab Youth Council will explore opportunities for cooperation and non-exclusive partnership in the following areas:

The participation of African women in policy development and implementation at the continental level; The involvement of African women in the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa; The implementation of the AU Human Rights Strategy for Africa; The implementation of Project 2016; The implementation and population of the AU Agenda 2063.





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